Category: CBS authors (page 1 of 3)

Joseba Zulaika’s “That Old Bilbao Moon” reviewed in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

The latest issue of the journal of this eminent institute contains a glowing review of Joseba Zulaika’s book. Written by Isaac Marrero-Guillamóm, the review opens to the heart of this remarkable book, “This is not a book about Bilbao, nor is it an ethnography of the Basque city. It is, rather, a multi-layered by-product of Bilbao—a book possessed by its history, people, ghosts, and art.”

You should click here and read the whole review, but I want to leave you with the final words of the review:

Ultimately, this book is recommended for those interested in the anthropology of the Spanish transition to democracy. It is also a remarkable experiment in auto-ethnographic writing. Its opening lines are a compelling invitation to the potential reader:

It was the spring of 1999 and a Carnival Monday morning when I returned for a visit to San Felicísimo (‘Saint Happiest’) – the Bilbao monastery where in the 1960s, as a teenager and for almost a decade, I tried hard to become a saint, but was finally expelled, an atheist and suicidal (p. 9).

If you don’t have a copy of this “remarkable” (a sentiment I could not agree with more) book, buy it right now!

Browse here

Echevarria, by Gretchen Skivington

From the Center for Basque Studies Books Newsletter:

The Center is proud to launch Echevarria, a novel in which dialogue is central, and to participate in the celebration of bertsolaritza at this year’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. In that spirit, here are some more things you may be interested in!

Much of what it means to be human is revealed through language and the spoken word predates its written counterpart by millennia. Indeed, whether we realize it or not, oral culture is at the very heart of the Western cultural legacy with the Homeric epics—the earliest works of Western literature—ostensibly oral in nature. Orality pervades Basque culture to this day and the Center’s publications reflect this fascinating dimension of the Basque experience in general. Voicing the Moment: Improvised Oral Poetry and Basque Tradition, edited by Samuel G. Armistead and Joseba Zulaika, is, to date, the most detailed study in English of the specifically Basque phenomenon of bertsolaritza–“versifying” or improvised oral poetry that is sung in different formal and informal contexts–and how this art form is part of the global oral tradition of verse. Likewise, Part I of Basque Literary History, edited and with a preface by Mari Jose Olaziregi, is devoted to oral literature, with chapters on the current state of orality as a literary form and the history of bertsolaritza. And beyond those works that specifically address Basque oral culture, it is interesting to note just how deep orality runs in the Basque storytelling tradition, whether it be in the form of tales from the Old Country as transcribed and discussed in Wentworth Webster’s charming Basque Legends, or the New World recollections of Joan Errea in her compelling autobiographical accounts of growing up in a Basque household rural Nevada: My Mama Marie and A Man Called Aita. And what better platform to reflect the influence of the oral culture storytelling craft than in literature for children and young adults? Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees by Mary Jean Etcheberry-Morton, is a whimsical story about the adventures of a five-year-old girl, Maite Echeto, her beloved friend Oui Oui Oui, a goslin. Meanwhile, renowned Basque author Bernardo Atxaga’s Two Basque Stories includes two tales framed around the relationship between grandfathers and grandsons that clearly reflect this oral storytelling tradition. Finally, for many examples of early bertsoak from the West, check out Asun Garikano’s Far Western Basque Country!

Echevarria is a new house, a new world, etxe (house) berria (new). It tells one hundred years of solitude and family history in Elko, Nevada and the Basque diaspora. The new family in the West is the necessary and awkward melding of Basque, Mexican, Chinese and Anglo settlers on the frontier. The human family is eternal and inviolable and there is only one story to tell—the intersection of young boy and young girl and the eternity of love. Death is its companion. And at the center of their journey is Echevarria—the Basque hotel.

ISBN 978-1-935709-90-9

Dr. Xabier Irujo presents at the 52. Durangoko Azoka

While wrapping up my fieldwork after spending a year here in the Basque Country, I took a day to travel from Bilbao to Durango to see the famous Durango Book Fair. Aside from getting to travel with a friend to this happening scene, with numerous publishers, book stores, and new media, I was able to see a familiar face. Professor Xabier Irujo was presenting his book titled “The Verdad Alternativa“, which discusses the lies and propaganda regarding the catastrophic effects of the bombing of Gernika.  The session was well attended with standing room only, with several from the audience providing follow-up questions.

Congratulations Professor Irujo!  Look forward to seeing you and everyone else at the Center for Basque Studies in January!


Basque Heritage Provides a Novel Theme: The Sheep Walker`s Daughter

By Sydney Avey

Who are the people we come from? Dee stops asking that question. But after her secretive mother dies, people who each know part of her story come forward.

Geography and culture play a critical role in grounding readers in a fictional story. I chose a Basque heritage for my first novel’s main character precisely because I knew nothing about the Basques. It was the perfect choice. Dolores Moraga Carter (Dee) knows nothing about the Basques either, but she will learn. And her discovery will change her life.

In 2014, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter received an honorable mention in a literary contest sponsored by the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. Given the fact that I am not Basque, I felt highly honored. In October 2017, the Center published the second edition of The Sheep Walker’s Daughter as a Basque Originals.

An early reviewer characterized the book as a coming-of-age story of a middle-aged woman. I hadn’t thought of it this way, but it rings true. Part of figuring out who we are is understanding our family history. I wrote this story to explore the motives my own mother had in keeping our family heritage a secret.

It isn’t uncommon for a novelist to explore troubling family issues in the guise of fiction. In the process, authors make choices about which personal details to include and which to change. I chose a different heritage from my own because I wanted to stand in Dee’s shoes, free of preconceptions, and explore a culture I knew nothing about.

Why the Basques?

I didn’t have a budget to visit the country I chose, but I needed to have some sense of place to write credibly. I have been to Barcelona and love it. Having some knowledge of that region gave me a place to start some virtual road tripping (films, YouTube) and develop a sense of the terrain.

A Google search led me to the Basque population centers in the United States. Bakersfield, CA was on the list, just a four hour drive from my home in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, That allowed me to do some original research.

The Basque culture is a mystery to many Americans, even those of Basque origin. After the first edition came out, many people stepped up to tell me that their heritage was Basque. That they didn’t know much about the culture affirmed that I made the right decision. The Basque theme also popped up in reviews.

“This historical novel introduced me to the Basque culture.”

“The Basque culture was always of interest to me and she described it beautifully from the way of life to the food.”

“The well-researched Basque culture of California provides a credible backdrop for the characters’ emotional journeys as they negotiate between self and family, coldness and warmth, old hurts and new faith.”

I hope one day to visit the Basque land.


The William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies 50th Anniversary

Photo credit: Josu Zubizarreta

During the darkest days, when we were denied our language, our culture and our identity, we were consoled by the knowledge that an American university in Nevada had lit one small candle in the night.

-Lehendakari Jose Antonio Ardanza, March 1988

Photo Credit: Iñaki Arrieta-Baro

Last week, on November 8, the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies celebrated its 50th anniversary with CBS faculty, students, and staff as well as countless members of the Basque community and supporters of the Center. Held at the Jon Bilbao Basque Library, the space was packed quickly. There was food and drink and a wonderful atmosphere. People reconnected with old friends and new ones at the lively event. Here’s some background on the CBS ‘s History and Mission:


Originally called the Basque Studies Program, the Center was created in 1967 as part of the Desert Research Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno. At that time, the DRI was creating new programs to reach various aspects of the Great Basin’s inhabitants and history. The idea for studying the Basques was proposed since Basque-Americans have long formed a prominent minortiy in the region and have contributed a great deal to its development. Bill Douglass served as the Program’s director from 1967-1999, when he retired to become Professor Emeritus in Basque Studies. The Basque Studies Program was renamed the Center for Basque Studies as a result of a program review conducted in 1999.

CBS Mission

The primary mission of the CBS is to conceive, facilitate, conduct, and disseminate the results of interdisciplinary research on the Basques to a local, regional, national, and internation audience, and by extension to draw attention to the human experience of small ethnic groups. The Center seeks to maintain excellence in all its endeavors and to achieve its goals through high quality research, publications, conferences, active involvement in scholarly networks throughout the world, as well as through service and teaching.

Channel 2 News was present and recorded a short news video on the event, available online. In it, they interview Xabier Irujo, the CBS director, and Dr. Sandy Ott, one of our professors. The video definitely captures the mood of the event.

Photo Credit: Iñaki Arrieta-Baro

President Johnson of UNR was given the word first, and he spoke of the history of the CBS and its impact on the UNR campus. He has taken a few trips to the Basque Country with the advisory council and genuinely enjoys our culture! Next up came William A. Douglass, our namesake and one of the founders of the CBS, as well as a pioneering researcher on Basques in the U.S. Douglass reflected on the center’s history and his own place within it. Dr. Irujo then spoke about both the CBS and Basque Studies in a global context, providing jokes and anecdotes. We were then honored by Jesus Goñi’s bertsoak celebrating the Center’s place in Basque history.

Photo Credit: Iñaki Arrieta-Baro

Photo Credit: Gemma Martín Valdanzo

Overall, it was a great event that gathered so many voices from the Basque community and academia. To 50 more years of the CBS!






Faculty News 2017: Mariann Vaczi

Although she’s a recent addition to the CBS, Dr. Vaczi is a busy academic. Her book about Bilbao and its soccer madness, entitled Soccer, Culture and Society in Spain: An Ethnography of Basque Fandom (Routledge, 2015) earned Honorable Mention at the 2016 Book Awards of the North American Society for the History of Sport. It also received great reviews in academic journals. Mariann spent the past two years in Catalonia doing ethnographic fieldwork in order to diversify her research interest in sport and sub-national identities. She contributed a chapter on sport in Spain for the Routledge Handbook of Sport and Politics, and she published research articles about sport and Basque and Catalan nationalism in American Ethnologist and Ethnos. She was invited to edit a special issue titled Sport, Identity, and Nationalism in the Hispanic World in the Journal of Iberian and South American Literary and Cultural Studies. She will present a paper at the 2017 annual meeting of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in Windsor, Ontario.



Faculty News 2017: Joseba Zulaika

Joseba Zulaika spent the spring semester of 2017 conducting field research on weaponized drones while living at the Catholic Workers Association in Las Vegas. His latest publication activities include “Aresti: A Red Dawn Is Breaking.” Foreword to Gabriel Aresti, Downhill and Rock & Core; “How Terrorism Ends—And Does Not End: The Basque Case,” Critical Studies on Terrorism; “Amets Amerikarra: Babes Nazazu Nahi Dudanagatik,” in Arantxa Elizegi Egilegor; Trump: Amesgaizto amerikarra, in Aleka; “Agirre at the Crossroads,” in The International Legacy of Lehendakari Jose A. Agirre’s Government. Joseba gave various public lectures: “Memoria y reconciliacion,” at the Elkarbizitzarako bilerak, Tolosa, for a debate with Juan Aranzadi and Aitzpea Olaizola, on May 12. He presented the paper “Ciudad, Arquitectura, Laberinto” at the symposium “The Role of Art, Design, and Architecture in the Construction of the Identity of Cities,” in Barcelona, Foment de les Arts i del Disseny, on June 30. He gave a lecture entitled “Terrorism, Sovereignty, and the State of Exception” at Trinity University, Texas, on October 10.


Faculty News 2017: William Douglass

On February 8 and 9, 2017, William Douglass presented public lectures in Boise, Idaho. The first day he gave a seminar on the Basques in Cuba & Beyond in a Basque Culture Class at Boise State University and that afternoon he addressed a University-wide audience on the subject of “Migration and Identity.” The following evening his talk at the Boise Basque Museum was entitled “A Basque Author’s Reflections.” All three events were well attended and were followed by lively public discussion. Before returning to Reno Douglass enjoyed a lunch with the Goitiandias–his Boise Basque  “family.” All are descendants of the baserri Goitiandia of Aulestia, Bizkaia, where Bill and his family lived for about a year (1964) while he conducted his anthropological field research for his doctoral dissertation. He subsequently presented his Cuba lecture at the Center for Basque Studies and his “Migration and Identity” one in a seminar at the University of Nevada-Reno Knowledge Center.



Faculty News 2017: Xabier Irujo

Xabier Irujo participated in the conference that took place in Gernika in April 2018 as part of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the bombing. As part of the commemorative events, Dr. Irujo met with Dieprand von Richthofen, grandniece of Wolfram von Richthofen, main responsible for the bombing that destroyed the city. Dr. Irujo also co-organized with the University of Barcelona the conference on the Nazis in the Basque Country and Catalonia that was held on June 2-4 at the Benedictine monastery of Lazkao and on June 20-22 at the monastery of Montserrat where on 23 October 1940 Heinrich Himmler thought he would find the Holy Grail. Dr. Irujo co-organized and attended a third conference on Social Economy held at the University of the Basque Country. He has given eleven lectures during the spring and summer semesters, and has participated in the documentary The Last Trench that sheds light on the terror bombing campaign of the German, Spanish and Italian aviation in the Basque Country. His 2018 book Gernika, 26 de abril de 1937 published by Crítica has had a wide media impact, and his book Gernika 1937: The Market Day Massacre, reviewed by the New York Book Review, was appraised at the American Historical Review, and was listed as a Nevada Press best seller in Spring 2017. Zorionak Xabier!


Heading into the Fall, here’s a recap of our summer publishing!

It has been an extremely busy summer here at the Center press, and now that students, new faculty and grad students are trickling in, we thought it would be a great idea to just quickly recap our summer publishing season!

Might post more on these individually, but just want to gather them together like a family portrait!

Bitter Justice: The Penitentiary of El Puerto de Santa María and Its Basque Dimension, 1936-1949

By David Lyon

ISBN 9781935709800


Incarceration of political enemies was a principal strategy for repression by the Francoist regime during the Civil War and Franco’s early rule and El Puerto de Santa María, in Andalusia, was a major prison. Bitter Justice tells the story of some of its prisoners, focusing on the Basque dimension and based on newly cataloged prison files, interviews with family members of prisoners, and research in Cádiz and Basque archives. The book tells the story of these prisoners: their charges, sentences, and conditions of release, which were generally more stringent for Basque prisoners than others. And El Puerto contained more Basque prisoners than all the other Andalusian prisons put together. In addition, Bitter Justice considers important interrelated issues: El Puerto’s background including conditions and treatment of its inmates; Basque prisoners’ conditions; a presentation of collective memories of Basque prisoners’ relatives relating to the prisoners’ lives before, during, and perhaps as important, after their return to their communities. The book also presents case studies of “offenders” and analyzes any inconsistencies of sentences, charges, and release conditions that affected Basque and Cádiz prisoners. This research shows that prison irregularities, and discrimination against those convicted from the Basque Country, were normal. This history, the first of its kind, sheds a new light on the terrible early repression of the Franco regime and its effect on many lives.


Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors

by Maite González Esnal


ISBN 9781935709855

Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors is an epic ramble through space and time—from the modern day Fryslân, The Netherlands, to the Basque Country in the years of privation after the Civil War. The stories are precise and radiant, thoughtful and emotional. They are filled with memorable characters: a Good Samaritan who offers coffee and registers birds, and who is, in his own words, “the master of my sounds, I only hear birdsong”; the railway man, Jean, whose true calling is his garden; and many more. Through these stories the narrator shines, illuminating with her inner musings, memories, and recollections both large and small. In turns contemplative, active, reflective, and expansive the result is a collection that glitters and resounds. Although it resists definition—being part travelogue, memoir, short story collection, and more—it is always filled with insight, stunning imagery, and a deep and wide heart.


Far Western Basque Country

by Asun Garikano


ISBN 9781935709787

The experience of Basque immigrants to the United States has come in many shapes and forms, and Asun Garikano takes nearly all of them into account in this comprehensive look at the lives of the ordinary men and women who made the brave journey to the US West in search of a better life. Although their experiences were very diverse, one commonality was the aid they received from fellow Basques. They were often met at the dock in New York City with the familiar sound of their language and helped to find a place on the transcontinental train with their names and destinations pinned to their coats. They worked at ranches, farms and businesses often owned by people from their same hometowns. They found conversation, fellowship, and cheer at boardinghouses where they shared the games, drinks, language, and food of their homeland. In Far Western Basque Country these and many other stories are told about the individual immigrants that made up the Basque diaspora in the United States. Some stayed, some returned, some lost money, some became rich and powerful. They adopted their new homeland and its ways. They fought in its wars, celebrated its highs and suffered its lows, but in the face of it, they all remained Basque.

A Man Called Aita

By Joan Errea


ISBN 9781935709824

A Man Called Aita is Joan Errea’s loving, moving, heartfelt, and honest tribute to her father, Arnaud Paris—aita is the Basque word for “father.” But it is so much more than that: it is the continued story of her mother, also told in Joan’s book My Mama Marie; it is the story of her brothers Arnaud, Mike, Johnny, and Pete; of her adored Uncle Otto; of ranch hands; and of dogs and goats and sheep and horses and cattle. Written in beguilingly simple rhymed verse, the story is not simple, nor is it entirely carefree—there are deaths, injuries, losses great and small, disease, trials and tribulations. There is humor, there is love, there are grand personalities written across the western landscape. At its heart is a tremendous loss that has been felt by all who have lost a beloved parent. Beyond its deeply personal story, this book is also a testimony to the ranching way of life in the Western United States and the place of Basques within it. Written in the style of the Basque bertsolari, and taking as inspiration her father, who was also a troubador of this oral tradition, the small book you hold in your hands is a true gem of the West.

With an introduction by Pello Salaburu.

The International Legacy of Lehendakari Jose A. Agirre’s Government

Edited by Xabier Irujo and Mari Jose Olaziregi


ISBN 9781935709817

This book, the result of an extensive international gathering of scholars from many different disciplines and countries, explores the fascinating life of Jose Antonio Agirre (1904–1960), the first lehendakari or president of the Basque Country. A charismatic figure that in many ways transcended the bitter political divisions of the age he lived through, Agirre’s legacy serves as a timely reminder of how maintaining one’s political, social, and cultural convictions need not necessarily serve as a barrier when it comes to promoting dialogue, cooperation, and diplomacy. A Basque nationalist but also an internationalist and strong advocate of an integrated Europe, Agirre’s biography reads as a testament to the mid-twentieth century experience of war and exile, and the chapters herein explore his life in both Europe and the Americas against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the coming of the Cold War.

The Basque Fiscal System Contrasted to Nevada and Catalonia: In the Time of Major Crises

Edited By Joseba Agirreazkuenaga and Xabier Irujo


ISBN 9781935709749

The Basque Fiscal System Contrasted to Nevada and Catalonia seeks to analyze Basque fiscal systems in the context of the 2008 financial crisis. It also aimed to develop a comparative vision with the state of Nevada and Catalonia. It treats the politics of finance in multi-level public institutions during the economic crisis; long-term fiscal policies for dealing with economic downturns during the past twenty years; the development of treasuries in federal states, in non-federal states and in complex unions (Europe); taxation and citizenship in a globalized world; long-term trends for dealing with the crisis and strategies for the future in European and North American contexts (the Basque Country, Catalonia, Spain, Ireland, and Nevada). Most of the book’s contributions by distinguished scholars and public officials relate to the Basque Country, providing an analysis of fiscal policies or the evolution of public finances. A contribution on taxation and gambling is also offered. This book serves as a new contribution to studies on fiscal federalism in Europe and America. We hope that these reflections serve as a turning point to promote debate and for the formulation of future research. Fiscal analysis is now an important research line at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque studies, promoted and in cooperation with the regional government of Bizkaia, with the end of promoting research in a comparative perspective.

The Basque Moment: Egalitarianism and Traditional Basque Society

Edited by Xabier Arregi Gordoa and Andreas Hess


ISBN 9781935709732

The discussion of egalitarianism goes to the very heart of Basque identity. The purpose of this book is to explore the concept, and to investigate whether egalitarianism is only a myth or ideology or whether there is some real substance and practice to it. This book approaches the topic of Basque egalitarianism from a broad range of disciplines and sub-disciplines, including social and contemporary history, sociology, political science, social anthropology and political philosophy. It also brings together people of different political conviction, spanning the divides that often occur when Basque traditions and ideas are discussed.

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